Rocketing energy prices are forcing small-business owners to look further afield when sourcing fuel, with around two thirds having purchased fuel from outside of Northern Ireland.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) questioned members in March, as fuel prices in the province reached record highs.
The research found just 34% had never bought fuel outside Northern Ireland, with the same percentage saying they bought fuel outside the province at least once a month.
Roger Pollen, from the FSB, said the increasing cost of fuel was forcing many small-business owners to seek a range of measures to slash their fuel bills.
“The cost of fuel is hitting business hard in Northern Ireland,” he said.
“Our members are telling us the astronomical prices for petrol and diesel are impacting and affecting consumer confidence, as well as their own profitability, so it is not surprising that many are travelling outside of Northern Ireland to avail of cheaper fuel prices.
“Our members, in a bid to save fuel, have reduced their travel (52%), adopted more fuel efficient driving techniques (23%), and changed their vehicle to a more fuel efficient model (14%).
“The cost of filling up is a major concern to the FSB and we are calling for the Government to put in place a fuel-duty stabiliser. This mechanism would ensure an automatic freeze on fuel-duty increases and a reduction in duty to match any increases in VAT revenues from higher pump prices — which the Conservative Party promised when in opposition.
“The FSB believes that if the Government does not act soon the sector will be left on a knife-edge.”